Kim Davis, the infamous, self-appointed guardian of marital discrimination in Kentucky, was reportedly chastised by attorneys for Kentucky governor Steve Beshear for her refusal to issue marriage licenses for same-sex marriages. This criticism came about after Davis allegedly filed suit against Beshear for issuing a directive to all the county clerks to comply with the Supreme Court’s opine that same sex marriage was legal in all 50 states. She seems to claim this directive is the current source of her legal woes and that if it was not for the directive, she would have been within her rights to withhold perfectly legal marriage licenses. The response from the governor’s office points out that the requirement to issue the licenses would have existed with or without any such directive from the governor’s office.
“Beshear’s lawyer, Palmer G. Vance, deemed Davis’ legal trouble a “meritless assault on the rule of law. At issue here are marriage licenses issued by the Office of Rowan County Clerk and not Kim Davis individually, as Kim Davis individually has no authority to issue such licenses,” Vance reportedly wrote in the filing. “The Office of Rowan County Clerk does not have a right to free exercise of religion.”
The irony of this situation is stunning. Kentucky, of course, is the same state sued by American Atheists and 10 Kentucky residents in 2008 over Senate Bill 59, a change to KRS 39G.010(2)(a) which required the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security to “Publicize the findings of the General Assembly stressing the dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth by including the provisions of KRS 39A.285(3) in its agency training and educational materials. The executive director shall also be responsible for prominently displaying a permanent plaque at the entrance to the state’s Emergency Operations Center stating the text of KRS 39A.285(3).”
The text to be posted at the Emergency Operations Center and in training and educational materials is as follows:
The General Assembly hereby finds that:
(1) No government by itself can guarantee perfect security from acts of war or terrorism.
(2) The security and well-being of the public depend not just on government, but rest in large measure upon individual citizens of the Commonwealth and their level of understanding, preparation, and vigilance.
(3) The safety and security of the Commonwealth cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon Almighty God as set forth in the public speeches and proclamations of American Presidents, including Abraham Lincoln’s historic March 30, 1863, Presidential Proclamation urging Americans to pray and fast during one of the most dangerous hours in American history, and the text of President John F. Kennedy’s November 22, 1963, national security speech which concluded: “For as was written long ago: ‘Except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.’ “
Regretfully, the suit’s resolution was not in American Atheists’ favor (we won the case, lost on appeal, and lost again when the Supreme Court refused to hear it), so Kentucky seems to still be a state that mandates a belief in God for the state’s protection.
However, it turns out Governor Beshear has an interesting track record with regards to other overtly religious abuses. A perfect example is the blatant cash grab attempt by the group Answers in Genesis to obtain taxpayer funding to build a replica of (the entirely fictional) Noah’s Ark while at the same time deploying hiring policies that explicitly discriminated against non-Christians.
(photo: Answers in Genesis)
The state of Kentucky decided not to allow the tax incentives which prompted Answers in Genesis to file suit over the rejection which was covered in a piece a few months ago by my Patheos colleague Dan Arel at Danthropology. Reportedly, Governor Beshear and Bob Stewart, the state’s tourism secretary, requested the suit be dismissed on the grounds that public funding clearly can’t be used to fund religious purposes and that the rejection of such funding does not keep Answers in Genesis or anyone else from practicing their faith.
Sadly, Beshear is apparently ineligible to run for governor in the next election due to term limits in the state’s constitution.